For biographic information on Willem van Mieris, see Piet Bakker’s biography in the current catalogue, and see also Eric Jan Sluijter, ed., Leidse fijnschilders: Van Gerrit Dou tot Frans van Mieris de Jonge, 1630–1760 (Exh. cat. Leiden, Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal) (Zwolle, 1988), 152.
Private collection. Ref., RKD, artwork nos. 125566, 128832.
Genealogical information on Samuel van Acker and his family is based on Piet Bakker’s unpublished research into the baptism, marriage, and burial registers and the Notarial Archive (NA) in the Regionaal Archief Leiden (RAL).
Samuel may have met Maria in her father’s workshop, where Samuel could have received his training.
For this type of portrait, see Eddy de Jongh, Portretten van echt en trouw: Huwelijk en gezin in de Nederlandse kunst van de zeventiende eeuw (Exh. cat. Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum) (Zwolle, 1986).
The possibility that the woman’s portrait was intended to hang on the left side should not be eliminated. In fact, the sales catalogue from 8 July 1981 (Sotheby’s, London) illustrates this pair with Van Acker on the right and the woman on the left. This arrangement, however, is odd in that the woman turns toward her companion but he does not acknowledge her. A female portrait could be hung on the left when the pendants depict two sisters, as seen in Willem van Mieris’s pendant portraits dated 1688 (RKD artwork nos. 167533, 167538).
A woman, either a widow or unmarried, could be portrayed in this way. Portraits of unmarried women were not typically designed to accommodate a companion painting hung on its left side. For examples of such portraits, see Eddy de Jongh, Portretten van echt en trouw: Huwelijk en gezin in de Nederlandse kunst van de zeventiende eeuw (Exh. cat. Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum) (Zwolle, 1986), 73–75, 79–80, 83–86, 93–95, nos. 4, 6, 8, 10. Through the process of inheritance, some family portraits may have stayed together while others could have been dispersed or combined with unrelated pictures. Furthermore, pendant pictures did not always depict married couples. In the 1749 probate inventory of Samuel’s son, for example, two portraits were mentioned in one lot. These were portraits of Samuel van Acker and his daughter Susan, who remained unmarried throughout her life. It is possible that Samuel’s son inherited this pendant pair from his sister Susan, who died in 1747. Samuel had two older and two younger sisters, but we lack information about their marriage statuses. One of them could be a candidate for the female sitter in this pair of portraits.
Regionaal Archief Leiden, NA notary G. Camper de Jonge, inv. 2164, documents 72 and 73; 16 August 1749. The inventory mentions only “Van Mieris” as the painter of the portraits. Considering that Jan van Acker died around 1680, this attribution must refer to Frans the Elder, as Willem was too young to have executed these pictures.
The characterization of the wood is based on visual examination of the X-radiograph and panel reverse images by Ian Tyers. According to Tyers, the panel has good potential for dendrochronology.